I Sell the Dead on Blu-Ray

Saturday, 17 October 2009 10:37

You will be forgiven for thinking this will be just another gothic horror about grave robbers. It certainly starts off that way, but the path it takes is quite different to the expected. You will be taken along on quite a different journey then you will have been on before.

"I Sell the Dead" begins with the execution of Willie Grimes for grave robbery and murder, Grimes does not go quietly. His partner in crime, Arthur Blake is to suffer a similar fate the following morning. On his final night Blake is visited by Father Francis Duffy who wishes to take the condemned mans last words and preserve them for posterity. Blake begins to tell the Father about his early life working with Grimes and of their adventures and misadventures culminating in the bizarre series of events that lead the pair to the gallows and the end of their careers as grave robbers.

I Sell The Dead on Blu-Ray and DVDWillie Grimes takes on Arthur Blake as an apprentice and they work for Doctor Vernon Quint providing bodies for his research. It becomes impossible for them to take fresh corpses from graveyards, when the townsfolk begin to guard their recently deceased, so they begin to look elsewhere.

A ‘suicide’ victim buried at a cross roads initially seems an easy target... until they remove the garlic and stake from the body. Following this encounter our macabre duo begin seeking out Vampires and the Undead for interested parties who are prepared to pay and begin to make good money. It is when they travel to an island to recover  bodies that were being delivered from overseas that their troubles really begin.

Arthur Blake, who relates the tales, is played by Dominic Monaghan (Lost, "Lord of the Rings" trilogy), his partner Willie Grimes is played by Larry Fessenden ("The Last Winter", "Wendigo"). They work well together and the banter between them seems genuine. Fessenden has just the right amount of conniving menace to make him loveable but not trustworthy. Monaghan goes from storyteller to master villain with ease. There is a cheeky roguishness about their performance that allows the viewer to become sucked into the narrative and want the ‘bad’ guys to come through as the winners.

Ron Perlman ("Hellboy", "Outlander") plays a very convincing Father Duffy. He questions and listens to the seemingly tall tales that Blake relates. Although his is a small role it is a crucial one and he assists in moving the plot along and occasionally dragging Blake back to the main story. Is the Father more then he seems to be?

For most horror/sci-fi fans seeing Angus Scrimm ("Phantasm", Alias) popping up in anything is a treat. Here he plays Dr Quint with such understated menace and evilness that you cannot help thinking The Tall Man has changed the course of his employment, ever so slightly.

The Director, Glenn McQuaid, brings this gory story to life with a graphic novel feel to it. Each story dissolves into a stylised drawing and static back grounds and inventive camera work give many scenes a comic book look. This adds to the atmosphere and gives the whole piece an otherworldly or underworldly quality.

The extras include A 'Making Of' which shows a lot of behind-the-scenes footage as well as short interviews with the cast and crew. Many of the film's tricks of the trade are revealed. You feel like you are being let into a big secret and learning how it is all created. You are left in with no doubt that making a film is hard work.  Special mention should be made of Ron Perlman's dog (who insists on being in his master's interview) and the man underneath the make-up of some of the more lively corpses.

A short visual effects featurette shows how this element is slipped in, hopefully, without the audiences' knowledge. Audio Commentaries from the director and cast complete the extra features.

This film will not suit all tastes - there are a couple of moments where the story goes a bit too odd, and one or two of the visual effects are obvious which breaks the narrative a little. There is also an instance of swearing that really does not fit in.

On the whole this film is good fun, it does not take itself too seriously it is stylised and stylish and I hope to see more from the director.

“I Sell the Dead” is out on 19 October 2009 from Anchor Bay Entertainment, with a ‘15’ certificate, a running time of 82 minutes, on both Blu-Ray (RRP £24.99) and DVD (RRP £15.99).

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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